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PAX 2007: Viva Piñata: Party Animals hands-on

1:32 PM on 08.26.2007 // Earnest Cavalli

I don't know if it's the combination of sleep deprivation and replacing my daily meals with cigarettes and posing like a metrosexual Spaniard, but I've finally snapped. After spending some time with the psuedo-followup to Viva Piñata -- the Xbox 360's most criminally underrated title -- I can't stop giggling and drawing hearts all over my binders. Sure, VP:PA will never replace Jordan Catalano in the back of my metaphorical gaming yearbook, but from what they had on display today, it's actually an intensely fun title.

Hit the jump for more details, and no more references to failed Claire Danes vehicles. 

Preface time kids and whatever the female equivalent of the word 'kid' is (Joey maybe? No wait ... that's kangaroos ... nevermind): Viva Piñata: Party Animals was severely unfinished when I played it. While the graphics were intact and the gameplay seemed solid, there was only the one minigame to try so do not take this as the ultimate review of the title. This is merely one man's opinion on how adorable Chewnicorns are.

As stated above, the title is a mini-game collection in the vein of Mario Party or Fuzion Frenzy. I wouldn't necessarily say that it has what it takes to dethrone Nintendo's behemoth, but it's certainly a viable alternative, and with the Mario Party titles coming out almost every other day, it's a fresh take on the genre.

The game I ended up playing was a kart race ... sort of. Cleverly the developers realized that when your characters are all animals they probably have very little driving ability, so instead of tooling around in tiny cars they run. It's almost depressing to think that no one came up with this before, but it makes so much sense as to seem almost obvious.

In typical kart-racer fashion, you navigate a character around a course rife with power-ups, weapons, jumps and speed boosts and try to beat your furry/papery foes to the finish line. I don't know if it was a by-product of the title being unfinished or if the developers are just insanely sadistic, but the opponents in VP:PA sprint like cheetahs with the turn radius of a dreidel. I didn't even come close to beating them and when I'd approach them, they'd push me into the wall, spit on me and call me a b*%^#. 

On the upside, the graphics are stunning. From the waterfalls that part as you run through them to the floating pollen in the air everything has that same unrealistic, psilocybin glaze to it that drew so many people in to the original VP. Obviously this kind of candy-coating will question the sexuality of those of you who prefer your games to come in three shades of brown and one shade of red, but if you can look past your own innate insecurity, the sheer amount of adorable packed into the game is incredible. 

In the end, it's simply too early to say whether this game will be the next Hula Hoop or Kick The Can, but I can see a lot of potential and assuming the developers don't completely screw the papier mâché pooch before it sees launch, it should be a fun title to get drunk and giggle at.

Possibly with girls. 

Earnest Cavalli, Contributor
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I'm Nex. I used to work here but my love of cash led me to take a gig with Wired. I still keep an eye on the 'toid, but to see what I'm really up to, you should either hit up my Vox or go have ... more   |   staff directory

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